Teach the Earth > Geochemistry > Teaching Activities > Writing chemical reactions

Writing chemical reactions

John Ayers
Vanderbilt University
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 28, 2010


This is a simple introduction to writing weathering and redox reactions by hand and by using the Rxn program in the Geochemists Workbench. Its usually the first HW assignment I give in my class "Geochemical Modeling".

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Upper level undergraduate and graduate classes in Geochemistry or Geochemical Modeling.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Knowledge of how to write balanced chemical reactions and corresponding equilibrium constant expressions (need to know how to use logarithms). Familiarity with the phase rule and how to interpret activity diagrams.

How the activity is situated in the course

Homework assignment #1. The second homework assignment is also available as an activity sheet.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Exercise teaches students how to write complex weathering and redox reactions and the corresponding equilibrium constant expressions. It also asks them to use the expressions to answer geochemically relevant questions.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Development of geochemical models, interpretation

Other skills goals for this activity

Use of the Geochemists Workbench

Description of the activity/assignment

In this homework exercise students learn how to write balanced chemical equations describing weathering and redox reactions by hand and by using the Geochemists Workbench.

Determining whether students have met the goals

It is a quantitative exercise, so it is easy to see if the obtained the correct numerical answers.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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